PARC working on agricultural promotion to ensure food security in Thar

Associated Press of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Dec 29 (APP): Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) was working to ensure food security in Thar desert and for the purpose it had cultivated different kinds of fruits, vegetables and fodder crops to promote agriculture sector and create livelihood opportunities for the locals.

Talking to APP on Tuesday the Chairman PARC Dr Muhammad Azeem said the Council was engaged to strengthen government’s efforts to eliminate malnutrition and hunger by intervening through agriculture and livestock development.

The PARC, he said, in collaboration with non-governmental organisations had developed different farmers cluster and was providing seeds of different beans to to the farmers to enhance yields.

“We are providing about 200 to 300 mounds seeds of different beans, besides providing 50 to 60 mound bean for the farmers of Tharparker, he added.

“We are also working on preservation of local species and preserved about 50 local species including trees, medicinal plants and cultivated moringa”.

Meanwhile, Dr Attaullah Director PARC North Zone told that 14 varieties of guava, matching the local ecology, were also developed and distributed among the farmers to develop fruit orchids.

Besides, 38 varieties of dates were also grown and 13 types of different grasses over 10 acres of land were also grown, he said adding that these interventions had helped create livelihood opportunities as well as fulfilling the food requirements of the local communities.

Meanwhile, forest blocks were also established on 4 acres and different fruit plants including olive cultivated, he said adding that jojoba plants were grown over 45 acres in order to develop orchards and fruit farming in these areas.

In collaboration with local foundation, about 50,000 plants of different kinds including fruits and trees for shadow had also been provided to 20 villages, he added.

“We had installed a fertilizer plant to prepare fertilizer by using locust during current campaign against desert locust and distributed about 1500 bags of fertilizers among local farmers for producing organic agriculture products,” he added.

He said that PARC was also striving for mechanization of agriculture sector in these areas and helping the local farmers through providing them technical assistance.

Hawaii’s Next Wave of Natural Skin-Care Brands

New York Times Style Magazine
By Jess Cole –

A new generation of beauty companies is rediscovering the islands’ powerful native ingredients, from taro to ferns.

It is not altogether surprising that Hawaii is at the forefront of our current golden age of natural skin care, in which botanical face oils and mushroom-infused elixirs abound. Few places on Earth contain such a diversity of plant species, and Hawaiians have been using this bounty — including nutrient-rich varieties such as hibiscus, coconut, ferns and kukui nuts — as a source of nourishment and healing for generations. Indeed, plants have been prized on the islands since the first millennium A.D., when the ancient Polynesians arrived by canoe, bringing with them life-sustaining crops such as taro, breadfruit and sweet potato. And though centuries of colonization have done their best to erode this deep-rooted connection to the natural world, it has endured. In fact, for many of the founders of the latest wave of Hawaii-based skin-care lines, using locally sourced botanical ingredients is simply common sense, part of a reciprocal, age-old relationship between the islands and their inhabitants.

Ke’oni Hanalei, a native Hawaiian, spent much of his early childhood in the garden of his grandmother, a medicine woman, on Maui’s southwestern coast. As he watched her tend her plants, she would teach him about their therapeutic properties (hibiscus for purifying the blood, kalamoho fern for sparking creativity) and how to, as she would say, “Ka nani pulama,” or “cherish their beauty.” Today, these lessons inform Pohala, Hanalei’s Maui- and Kauai-based range of oils and tinctures made with indigenous Hawaiian ingredients including both hibiscus and ferns. The brand’s Lakana Medicinal Body Spray ($17), for example, is infused with handpicked la’au kalakala, a thorny shrub with small yellow flowers that has long been believed to support the nervous system. “We have this code of conduct in our culture, huna, which means ‘secrecy,’” says Hanalei, referring to the safeguarding of ancient Hawaiian traditions. “Our families lived by this through the Western influence, and it is why a lot of our records are well preserved.”

Chelsa Davis, who is also of Hawaiian heritage and grew up by the ocean in Kailua, on the Big Island, feels a similar responsibility for preservation. She founded her skin-care line AO Organics Hawaii in Honokaa in 2017 in part to educate her community about the impact of oxybenzone, a typical ingredient in chemical sunscreens, on the archipelago’s marine life. (A 2015 study revealed that up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in reefs each year, and that the reef located in Hawaii’s popular Hanauma Bay is one of the most at risk in the world.) Accordingly, the line’s first product was the mineral-based Liquid Reef-Safe Sunscreen ($28), which uses zinc oxide, rather than harmful chemicals, to block the sun’s rays. It is infused, too, with organic beeswax, which Davis sources from the local producers Wai Meli and 808 Honey, to boost hydration. “Honey produces a natural form of glycerin, which attracts water to your skin,” says Davis, who also uses the ingredient in her anti-inflammatory, turmeric-rich Olena + Honey Foaming Cleanser ($30) and her lightweight papaya seed and babassu oil-based ?Ili Hydration Moisturizer ($32). “It is a gift from the creatures that give life to the island.”

“Sustainability is already a part of the tradition here,” says Leala Humbert, who has run the natural beauty line Ua Body with her husband, Blaine Kusler, on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast since taking the 30-year-old company over from her mother in 2019. In an effort to support the island’s ecosystem, the couple collaborates closely with the Hawaii Sandalwood company, a family-owned reforestation business working to replenish the Big Island’s sandalwood forests — which have been depleted by invasive species and overharvesting — in part by extracting oil from dying trees, a process that naturally prompts the growth of new ones. The liquid, which is believed to aid relaxation, is a key ingredient in Ua Body’s Iliahi Dry Oil ($48), a nourishing body moisturizer with a subtle, earthy aroma.

Similarly, the inclusion of macadamia oil in the antioxidant-rich ‘Opio Anti Aging Mano’i elixir (from $16) and intensely moisturizing Moha Beautifying Concrete Gelèe (from $14) from Oshan Essentials arose from founder Shelley Leemor’s desire to work sustainably, repurposing the imperfect nuts discarded by a local processing factory. “Macadamia oil is a nourishing, essential fatty acid that isn’t comedogenic,” says Leemor, who moved to Hawaii from the mainland 10 years ago, and launched her company in 2017 on a seven-acre farm on Maui’s North Shore. Powered solely by the sun and using water collected from rainfall, her entire manufacturing process is carbon neutral, and she grows many of the company’s botanicals, such as turmeric, papayas and guavas, on site.

Like macadamia trees, which were introduced to the islands in the late 19th century, the moringa tree is an originally nonnative species that has thrived in Hawaii. Brought over in the early 1900s by Filipino immigrants who came to work on the islands’ sugar cane fields, it is a nutritional powerhouse whose delicate green leaves are widely used in Hawaiian cooking and restorative teas. But it’s the cold-pressed oil made from the husks of the moringa seeds that features most prominently in the skin-care products from Maruyama Jones Farm in Kailua, on the Big Island. Co-founded by husband and wife Geoff and Misa Maruyama Jones in 2016, the company is based on a five-acre farm run by Misa’s family. “We do not own the land, we are in a relationship with the land,” says Misa, who is of Filipino heritage. “We are all akin to the plants, the animals, the soil and even the microorganisms in the soil.” Accordingly, the farm works on a regenerative model of sustainability, whereby organic compost made from local green waste and spirulina generates the nutrients for the moringa trees. Each bottle of the couple’s Moringa Seed Oil ($50), a hydrating all-in-one product for both the skin and the hair, is derived from nearly 400 hand-selected seeds grown on site and husked by Geoff himself.

The Oahu-based apothecary Indigo Elixirs, founded by the Armenian-American herbalist Deanna Rose Ahigian, also makes use of Hawaii’s potent native plants — in this case, those of the Manoa Valley, where Ahigian lives — but it strives to reflect, too, the diversity of Hawaii’s residents. The brand caters to a range of skin tones and hair types — its pikake-infused Moon All Over Oil ($27) is a silky serum designed to rehydrate thicker and Afro-textured hair — and many of its ingredients are inspired by “the strong Asian influences here,” says Ahigian. The line’s detoxifying Matcha Kalo Mask ($22), for example, contains rice flour, which is commonly found in South Korean skin-care products, as well as antioxidant-rich Japanese green tea powder. But another key ingredient is taro. Not only has this starchy root vegetable long been a form of sustenance in Hawaii but it also has anti-inflammatory properties. “And I wanted to use it,” Ahigian says, “because it’s the most sacred plant in Hawaiian mythology.” Indeed, like so many of the islands’ plants, it has been revered for millennia precisely because of its usefulness.

How To Grow Your Own Moringa (Kalamungay) Tree

KuliKuli Foods

Moringa, the famous “miracle tree,” has many nutritional benefits and is one of the most efficient and influential plants out there. It grows best in tropical and sub-tropical regions, but many climates can support a moringa tree. This article is for anyone considering growing their own moringa tree.

Moringa trees can be grown from either moringa seeds or branch cuttings from a moringa tree. If you have a nearby friend with a healthy moringa tree who can lending you a branch, then seeds are the way to go. Moringa oleifera is a common variety of moringa and is a great choice for growing and consuming.

HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN MORINGA TREE
In the United States, the only places moringa can grow outside year-round are southern areas of Florida, Arizona, California, and Texas. Depending on where you live, you may decide to grow moringa trees outside in the ground, or in a pot to be kept indoors during the winter months. If you go with the “indoor/outdoor” combo, you can move your moringa tree outside during the summer.

Growing moringa trees in greenhouses is also an option, and is great for climates that regularly get below freezing temperatures. The optimal temperature range for moringa trees is 77-95 °F, but it can also survive in extreme temperatures up to 118 °F in the shade and down to a light frost. Altitudes lower than 1,970 ft above sea level are best, but moringa trees have been able to grow in the tropics up to 3940 ft above sea level.

No matter where you decide to grow your tree, try to place it in a sunny location and give it plenty of water.

STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONS FOR PLANTING MORINGA
Before you get straight to planting, you need to think about where your tree is going. Is this tree in a pot that you will move inside during the winter? Or do you live in a sunny, drier climate where you can plant moringa seeds directly in the ground?

Once you know where your tree might go, you are ready for the next step. There is no dormancy period for moringa seeds, so you can plant mature seeds at any time.

Follow these instructions for the best success with planting moringa seeds, and see other planting options below!

PLANTING MORINGA SEEDS OUTSIDE:
Find a spot with soil that is light and sandy, not waterlogged or clay-like.
Dig a few 1 ft. x 1 ft. holes
1 ft. deep, and “back-fill” each hole a bit with soil.
If you must plant in heavy soil, dig a hole up to three times as big as described in Step 2 and use a 1/3-sand, 2/3-soil mixture to back fill.
Plant 3-5 seeds in each 1 ft. hole, spaced 2 inches apart.
Be careful not to plant seeds more than ½ an inch deep.
What about indoor moringa plants? Moringa trees can grow up to 50 feet tall, which is less than ideal for an indoor environment.

These next instructions will teach you how to grow a “dwarf” moringa tree, which is still the same plant that has just been pruned to grow less.

PLANTING MORINGA SEEDS IN A POT:

Fill a pot that is 12-18 inches in diameter with loose soil.
One pot can usually hold about five dwarf moringa trees, but it is a good idea to initially plant 7 or 8 in case a few seeds don’t sprout.
Space out ¾- to 1-inch deep holes in the soil.
Put a seed in each hole and lightly cover them with some soil.
Once the plants have at least two layers of branches, it is time to start pruning. Cut back the tops of the seedlings and cut the branches back to half their length.
When the tree is young, check the tree for new leaves at least once a week. New leaves usually appear on the tops and in a sort of “junction” or fork in branches–cut these back as well!
Pruning the tree will keep it small, and will also produce a LOT of leaves, which is great for you to use in your food!
If you do have the option to start your own tree from a branch cutting, follow these instructions on how to use a moringa cutting to grow your own moringa tree.

PLANTING MORINGA FROM A CUTTING:

Use hard wood instead of green wood for cuttings, which should be at least one inch in diameter and at least six feet long.
The best branches for cuttings are the ones that need to be cut off anyway after the tree has finished producing fruit for the year and needs to be pruned to promote new growth.
Dig a 3 ft x 3 ft hole that is 3 ft deep and plant the cutting inside.
Fill the hole with a sand and soil mixture. Pack soil firmly around the base of the plant.
We hope the above ways help you with your moringa! Once you’ve planted your tree, you might start wondering about the “best tips” to keep your tree healthy. We’ll provide top tips below.

GENERAL TIPS FOR CULTIVATING MORINGA
The best way to learn is by trial and error, and you can also consult your local nursery for tips on your area’s soil and weather conditions. Most moringa seeds sprout within two weeks of being planted, so if you’re not seeing sprouts, you may need to replant.

SOIL AND WATERING TIPS:
Even though moringa can grow in a variety of conditions and in poor soil, we recommend using compost or manure. Mix the compost into your soil, as this will help the tree grow. Moringa trees do not usually need fertilizer of any kind, but if yours needs a little bit of extra help, phosphorus will aid root development; nitrogen will help with leaf growth. Ammonium sulfate can also help your tree grow.

Be generous with watering, but don’t water too much. The soil should not be dry and cracked, but the seeds should not be drowning either. Seedlings also are a bit fragile when they have recently sprouted, so water lightly during this period. When watering a new plant that was started from a branch cutting, try to avoid watering the stem of the plant. Moringa can survive in very dry climates with little water, but regular watering during the first two months of planting seeds helps them develop properly.

After the first two months, you can cut water back significantly and only water the tree when it looks like it needs water. If you live in a very wet climate and are growing your tree outside, Diplodia root rot can occur. To avoid this, try planting your tree on top of a small mound so that excess water can run off away from the plant.

PRUNING TIPS:
All moringa trees need regular pruning to promote leaf growth, curb branching, and prevent the tree from being taller than you want it to be. If a moringa tree is left alone to grow, it will become tall with many branches and few leaves, and will only flower near the top, which is very unhelpful.

A good height to aim for is 8-12 feet, and if you continue to prune the tree will keep growing lots of leaves and growing branches from the trunk instead of out the top of the tree. To prune, simply cut branches back to half their length and trim the top of the tree.

The branch parts that you’ve removed can be chopped up into 4- to 10-inch bits and scattered underneath the moringa tree to serve as a natural mulch.

PESTS, POWDER & PODS TIPS:
Moringa does resist a lot of pests, but termites still might give you trouble. If this is the case, use mulch with castor oil plant leaves, mahogany chips, tephrosia leaves, or Persian lilac leaves.

To harvest the pods for eating, pick them when they are about ½ an inch in diameter and come off easily. Older leaves are better for making moringa powder.

WHERE CAN I BUY MORINGA SEEDS?

Here is a list of a few moringa seed vendors in the United States, in addition to online shopping services like Amazon and Ebay. Kuli Kuli does not in any way endorse these vendors, but solely is providing them for informational purposes:

Seedman.com
MoringaFarms.com
MoringaForLife.com
Good luck cultivating your own moringa tree!

RESOURCES
https://www.treesforlife.org/our-work/our-initiatives/moringa/faq/growing-moringa/will-the-moringa-tree-grow-in-my-area
http://www.ilovemoringa.com/How-To-Grow-Moringa-In-Cold-Climates.html
http://www.moringamatters.com/how-to-grow-a-dwarf-Moringa-tree.html
https://www.treesforlife.org/our-work/our-initiatives/moringa/how-to-grow
http://echonet.org/moringa/
http://www.moringamatters.com/how-to-prune-moringa-trees.html
http://miracletrees.org/growing_moringa.html

10 Reasons To Eat Moringa Everyday

KuliKuli Foods

Moringa has gained recognition from grocery stores and celebrities across the country. Recently, Naomi Campbell and Martha Stewart both cited moringa as a powerful way to nourish and energize the whole body, as well as support greater immune health. Eating moringa everyday might be the new change your routine needs.

HERE ARE THE TOP 10 REASONS TO EAT MORINGA EVERYDAY.
While you may have only seen the word “moringa” in the last few years, how much do you know about it? This plant from “the miracle tree” has been used by cultures all over the world for thousands of years. In the US, you can find moringa in energy shots, smoothie mixes and more!

This leafy green is bursting with nutrients and just a little bit can supercharge your day and revamp your health.

1. THIS LEAFY GREEN CAN IMPROVE NUTRITION AROUND THE WORLD
This supergreen is more nutritious than kale and provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits that rival those of turmeric. Moringa is also a fast-growing and leafy tree that thrives in hot, arid climates.

Moringa can improve nutrition around the world, largely due to its nutrient density and resistance to drought. It also doesn’t require a lot of intensive labor for harvesting or growing.

Additionally, farmers who grow Kuli Kuli moringa gain a sustainable livelihood that can uplift entire communities. For one example of this positive impact, check out Pamela Soroti’s story!

Overall, this humble plant offers amazing nutritional and financial benefits for farmers and their families. Ethical supply chains are at the core of our mission, helping Kuli Kuli addresses the power of nutrition at a local and global level.

2. MORINGA IS MORE NUTRIENT-DENSE THAN KALE
It’s true! A single serving of moringa leaf powder has the nutritional equivalent of two servings of kale greens.

3. THIS SUPERFOOD IS AN EASY SOLUTION FOR IRON-DEFICIENCY ANEMIA
Anemia is a condition when the blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin to transport oxygen to the body’s cell.

Anemia often results in fatigue, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath. The condition currently affects 3.5 million Americans. Recent studies suggest that moringa leaves may be better at improving iron sufficiency than conventional iron supplements.

One tablespoon of moringa leaf powder provides an excellent source of iron. Moringa also has 7 times the amount of iron as spinach.

4. MORINGA MAY HELP PREVENT AND MANAGE DIABETES

Prediabetes is a condition that causes higher-than-average levels of blood sugar without adequate levels of insulin, which leads to glucose building up in the blood instead of being converted to energy.

Glucose builds up in the blood can lead to serious health problems, including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and even stroke.

Multiple studies suggest that moringa leaf powder can help to significantly reduce blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and increase glucose tolerance.

5. THE MIRACLE TREE ALSO SUPPORTS HEART HEALTH
Many people refer to moringa as the “miracle tree” across Latin America, South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This is because of its nutrient-density and medicinal properties. Moringa is rich in antioxidants that fight against oxygen-free radicals, which can contribute to cholesterol build-up and inflammation.

Studies suggest that moringa may help reduce the number of free radicals, improve the function of the heart, and prevent cell damage along blood vessel walls.

Moringa is also packed with fiber. Fiber can contribute to heart health by improving bowel movement, lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of stroke and diabetes.

A single serving of moringa gives you 12% of your daily fiber needs. We recommend mixing Kuli Kuli Pure Moringa Vegetable Powder into a bowl of oatmeal.

6. MORINGA IS A NATURAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AGENT
Inflammation is a healthy, natural response that helps the body heal; however, too much or chronic inflammation causes stress. Inflammation helps repair an injury or fight a potential health threat. But when the body is in a state of chronic disease, the continual production of the systemic inflammatory response can be detrimental. Chronic low-grade inflammation has been associated with diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.

While more research is needed to fully understand the anti-inflammatory benefits of moringa, research suggests that moringa has many anti-inflammatory properties that could protect the body from several types of chronic diseases.

Direct antioxidants, such as polyphenols found in moringa and other fruits and vegetables, scavenge free radicals in the body that cause oxidative stress and damage –reducing inflammation and preventing cell damage.

Indirect antioxidants, such as those found in moringa and other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, stimulate detoxification pathways in the body, which have long-lasting anti-inflammatory and cell-protective effects.

7. THIS SUPERGREEN IS ALSO A LACTATION ENHANCER
Moringa can help new moms with nursing by increasing the quantity of their breast milk.

In a 2003 study, the amount of breastmilk produced by lactating mothers who were given 350mg of moringa every day showed a significant increase in breast milk in comparison to lactating mothers who were given a placebo.

Moringa can also help make breast milk more nutritious.

Consuming moringa increases the mother’s intake of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Beta-carotene is important for newborn babies, as blindness, infectious diseases, and protein-energy can be linked to vitamin A deficiency.

In West Africa, vitamin A deficiency is the main reason behind the high mortality rate of children under five. To address this mortality rate, moringa is used as a weaning food in West Africa. Many people add moringa to breast milk or breastmilk substitutes.

8. MORINGA CAN ENHANCE OVERALL GUT HEALTH
Some experts believe that health begins in the gut. It may seem obvious that a strong intestinal tract and diverse microbiome aids with basic digestion, but that’s not all. Gut health also has links to our greater immune and hormone systems.

Recent studies reveal how our gut “microbiomes” can effect mood, appetite, metabolism, stress levels, and the ability to deal with illness.

Moringa contains nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals that have been shown to promote gut health by stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria and suppressing that of pathogenic bacteria.

These compounds have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation of the gut wall, thus improving the wall’s ability to inhibit the passage of toxins into the bloodstream.

These phytochemicals are associated with improved management of inflammatory bowel syndrome and a decreased risk of colon cancer and infections.

9. THIS SUPERFOOD IS ALSO A GREAT SOURCE OF PROTEIN
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The body makes some amino acids, while others—known as the nine essential amino acids—we receive via diet. Moringa contains adequate levels of all nine essential acids.

This protein-rich plant also helps uplift the communities who grow moringa, especially communities with histories of malnutrition. In this way, moringa can address malnutrition on a local and global scale!

The “quality” of dietary protein is best measured by the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) which factors in both the essential amino acid present and their digestibility. Moringa has the highest ranking of 1 on the PDCAAS scale of 0-1.

10. MORINGA EASILY FITS INTO YOUR DAILY NUTRITION PLAN

Moringa is the perfect complement to a healthy lifestyle. Millions of people use this plant to consume the nutrients they need to thrive.

Over 60% of Americans say that incorporating more vegetables into their diet is their #1 priority, but many find it difficult to get their greens at meals other than dinner.

Moringa is extremely versatile and can be added to nearly any dish – sweet or savory. It’s also a convenient way to add vegetables to any meal, whether a baked casserole or pasta sauce. Here’s 10 ways to add moringa and “sneaky greens” into your daily routine.

Tea industry could ignite economic resurgence

The Sunday Observer
By Rohan Fernando –

The tea industry must be looked at from a different perspective, as two distinct industries, tea growing/manufacturing and tea marketing, to make use of the opportunities rampant in the world consumer preferences and to meet such demands by producing quality controlled products at profitable and competitive levels.

While the Plantation Ministry has the infrastructure to enforce good agricultural practices (GAP) and Good manufacturing practices (GMP) to ensure the quality of every kilo of tea produced, the EDB under the external trade ministry could be empowered to boost the global market share for tea.

There are several natural products now in vogue as superfoods for their inherent health supportive properties. Virgin coconut oil, Coconut cream and Moringa are products exported from Sri Lanka to meet an increasing demand in the superfood category.

Similarly, tea could be transformed into this category for its anti-carcinogenic property of ‘polyphenols’. Kombucha containing probiotics is another tea product on the superfood scale. With labeling identifying these properties backed by R&D, tea has the potential to be upgraded as a health supportive consumer product as opposed to the common thirst quencher.

Disrupt instead of destruct

Tea has not had the benefit of new technology due to industry leaders refusing to change. Disruption of archaic concepts and change from the Iron Age to Nano tech age is badly needed in the tea industry, if it is to make use of the opportunities available.

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Every sector in the tea industry needs disruption for shift in paradigms. This is commonly termed as thinking out of the box. Refusal to change will result in slow but sure destruction.

For instance, tea smallholders can be empowered with new technology with education on economy of scale to run their small businesses as private cooperative units as the original model for sustainable family business has now changed with land fragmentation and increased cost of labour and other inputs.

Private tea factories have proliferated with political patronage leading to malpractices. For an example, Kenya produces nearly 400 million kgs, in 160 factories, while Sri Lanka operates over 700 factories for the annual output of over 300 million kgs.

Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) can be empowered and provided autonomy to diversify into other related fields, such as forestry, animal husbandry, special export crops, eco tourism etc. to spread the risk of investments and be profitable without subsidies.

Exporters can be encouraged to expand the global reach with liberalisation of import export within controlled economic zones, lest there be ambiguity on the genuineness of the purpose.

The financial structure involving loans for agriculture, manufacturing and exports must be reviewed for interest rates compatible with global standards. Most exporters are reeling under debt to banks and non receipt of export proceeds having to pay penalty interest to financial institutions. The P&M fund to the tune of 6 billion rupees contributed to by the tea exporters should be utilized to support exporters and none other. If needed, this fund could be used as a rotating fund to support brand building by exporters. For a workable strategy, all stakeholders must be consulted with their sector strategies for an expanded economic model in tea without banking on handouts and subsidies.

The president has the desire to make Sri Lanka great having understood the potential our powerful island has to become an economic power base in the Indian Ocean.

Rationale

When a man from earth died and appeared at the “pearly gates”, Saint Peter the keeper of the gates accosted the man to find out what he was doing on earth to deserve a seat in heaven. The man most humbly answered, “St. Peter, back on earth I have been a tea trader all my life.” The gate promptly opened and St. Peter was heard to say, “Come in my son, take a harp, you have had enough of hell.”

Though in a lighter vein, most in the tea trade engaged in the business of marketing tea feel the heat of hellfire, in a volatile business environment often interfered and manipulated by politicians to expand the vote base. This has been the case since the plantations were nationalised by Mrs. Sirimavo Bandarannaike in 1976. The once profitable and tax paying industry gradually declined to become one of the biggest liabilities to the tax paying public.

An industry steeped in tradition and that has survived for over 150 years can be resurrected not with handouts, but only with sound business propositions based on the basic principle of market economy of supply and demand charged with innovation on the back of research and development.

A vast majority of us in different segments of the industry feel the pain of no gain having dedicated our productive life to the cause of Ceylon tea, we are too passionate about.

The magic of tea

Tea is a miracle crop and to harness the potential of tea is the business acumen. Imagine the British and Scottish planters coming by steamship back in the 18th century to clear jungles, uproot disease ridden coffee and plant tea as a commercial crop and being able to make good their investments.

Sir Thomas J. Lipton made his fortunes in Ceylon and built the world’s largest tea brand Lipton. Even today when we travel in the tea country, we are amazed as to how the British rulers built the infrastructure, the winding roads cut into the mountain slopes, the railroads tunnelled through the mountains, built gigantic factories and the deployment of labour brought in from South India, all of which made Ceylon tea the most famous global beverage. It was the private enterprise which succeeded with patronisation and not with intervention by the State.

Re-engineering tea

Wouldn’t it be prudent then to re-engineer this once glorious industry and turn it around to be self reliant on time tested principles and global demand for healthy beverages and superfoods. It is only then we could strategise the correct economic policy for our nation as professed by the government in building an export driven national economy.

In 2002, when branding was recognised as the way forward in that year’s budget on a proposal put forward by the newly formed Tea Exporters Association (TEA), the export industry was elated and there was hope for expansion of tea exports with liberal trade policies. The momentum that gathered after the incentives offered backed by ‘Stable Policies’ for branding saw the tea export values climbing up gradually surpassing the $ 1 billion mark and reaching $ 1.6 billion by 2014.

The tea industry was hopeful of going after a bigger target of USD 5 billion in tea exports by 2020 in support of the government’s ambitious drive to grow the total export revenue to 20 billion USD by 2020.

US $ 5 billion was targeted with the possibility of taking a bigger share of the global consumer market, then estimated around $ 35 billion per annum. The formation of a strictly controlled import/export hub for value addition and branding to compete on par with major tea brands such as Lipton, Titley, and Twinings and product diversification into tea extracts and derivatives backed by research and development were taken into consideration.

Although the government gazette of 1981 permitted the import of tea needed for blending and value addition, it lacked provisions for full liberalisation of the tea export industry. Hence the concept of a secluded hub was to ensure non-filtration of imported tea into the local supply chain to maintain the undiluted purity of Ceylon Tea.

Currently the value of global consumerism on black and green tea exceeds 60 billion USD per annum and growing at a healthy percentage year on year.

Status-quo

Composition of the industry – From an overall position the tea industry comprises large plantations or RPCs, tea smallholders, private tea factory owners, tea brokers and the tea exporters. The tea smallholders or individual tea farmers play a big role in the supply chain producing 60% of the tea crop.

Stagnation – But what do we witness today? A stagnant industry struggling to survive. The serious decline in the overall value of the entire tea industry be it growing, manufacturing or exporting is a matter for investigation as a first step towards re-igniting this once glorious national pride.

Decline in quality – It is the general perception that Ceylon tea is the best in the world, but unfortunately all teas produced in Sri Lanka do not fall within the finest quality stamped with a LION logo by the Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB). At the best 40% of the teas manufactured in the country qualify for the LION logo certification whilst the rest are comparable with teas from other origins.

Constricted supply chain – The production of tea is declining due to a multitude of reasons with very little hope of Sri Lanka’s tea crop to exceed 380 million kgs when the world tea production is increasing annually at an average of 6.5%. Our share of the global tea export trade has declined from 18% in 2010 to 12% in 2018 and will continue to decline, year on year making the supply chain constricted due to stagnant tea output.

Tea smallholder – The smallholder farmers who manufacture 60% of the tea crop rely heavily on government subsidies for fertiliser, planting materials and demand a guaranteed price for fresh leaf. The economic model of the smallholder tea farmers is non viable due to land fragmentation and the high cost manual operations with hired labour as opposed to self tending. Unless the operational model is rehashed with new technology being infused and increase the economy of scale under a cooperative model for shared labour, it will continue to suffer economic stress and rely heavily on the ex-checker.

The current subsidies paid out to the smallholder farmers could be invested in developing a productive economic model for prosperity and arrest further fragmentation.

The tea smallholder concept was a clever strategy adopted after the JVP instigated youth uprising in the 1970s, to gainfully engage the households in several poor regions by luring them into tea cultivation in home plots with government subsidies. Whilst it solved the problem of unemployment by transforming many thousands to self-employment in the early 80s the expansion in the family unit has resulted in fragmentation of land in the present time and the operational costs exceeding income.

RPCs – Large plantations classified under Regional Plantation Companies (RPC’s) regularly complain of difficulties in meeting the demands of politicised unions for increase in wages unrelated to productivity. Due to wages not being linked to productivity, cost of production (COP) in Sri Lanka is identified as the highest in the tea world.

The RPCs are also governed by restrictions imposed by the state (the golden shareholder) on activities outside of tea. If the plantations are allowed to diversify their business model to multi crops, forestry, animal husbandry and eco-tourism whilst adhering to modern growing and manufacturing practices for cost effective production, the plantation economy would surge from the present levels.

Private tea factories – The proliferation in private tea factories in violation of laid down regulations has caused severe damage to the quality of tea. The problems created by unscrupulous factories in adulteration using sugar and other substances has resulted in Ceylon tea being strictly monitored for MRLs by several importing countries.

Tea economy

Developed countries are already using tea as an industrial base material for a multitude of high end products in many different consumer segments.

Tea is the number one beverage in the world which is natural, affordable and free from any allergies, safe to drink at any age or any stage, even during pregnancy.

Global tea economy – Tea is the earliest beverage in the world discovered in China many centuries ago. Today it is consumed in every nook and corner of the world for its therapeutic value as an all day rehydrating drink. Apart from tea being consumed as a hot beverage, tea is used as an ingredient in the following segments.

1 Iced teas & tea based soft drinks
2 Pharmaceuticals such as polyphenols
3 Fragrance and non beverage applications as skincare products.
4 Solid foods such as tea cookies and tea pestos, tea salads.
5 Green tea powder as a superfood in milkshakes and in cooking.

If an assessment is to be carried out for all segments of this super commodity a value close to 100 billion USD could be attributed at current consumer levels. One of the most exciting factors is the rediscovery of tea for its hidden therapeutic values driving the youth across the globe towards tea which was earlier a drink of the elderly.

If the government is serious about the tea economy, they should free the industry from state intervention and political interference and allow the industry to operate as a business. Tea is rich with tradition and these traditions could be transformed into trends for greater benefit of the industry at large. All that the industry needs are policies based on market economy, a tax regime supporting competitive exports and autonomy for the export industry.

World tea production is ever increasing due to demand, especially in China and India to meet internal consumption and is targeted to reach 6 billion kgs.

World tea export volume has exceeded 1.8 billion kgs out of tea producing countries and tea HUBs and continue to increase, whereas the global “retail” market for tea as a hot beverage is close to 60 billion USD

Tea, Apart from being used as a hot beverage, iced tea in ready to drink form is making vast strides in the beverage sector. Tea is also a base for several non beverage products used in pharma, wellness and even as a safe alternative to kick the habit of smoking.

Sri Lanka has the most advanced tea packaging factories amongst the tea producing countries but has raw material limitation of 350 million kgs or 6.3% of the world production

The question now is, should we be big fish in a small pond or small fish in a big pond? Bigger the pond room to grow.

At a time when the new President has voiced his desire through his well documented manifesto to make Sri Lanka a prosperous nation, It may be worth looking at the following fundamentals in social economic justice for Nation building.

Tea strategy

The dynamics of the industry – There are two very specific and inter connected sectors in the tea industry, tea growing/manufacturing and tea exports. These two segments have to be separately identified and brought under specific ministries for a result driven export economy. Unlike in the past where the plantations were directly linked to the export-houses in Colombo, nationalisation of the estates caused to segregate plantations and exports. Though the exporters are not asking for handouts, several sectors in the tea industry are under severe stress due to veering off the commercial path and relying heavily on political patronage the industry has got used to over the years. Weaning these sectors off such unrealistic economic models is the biggest challenge for the government in power.

Taking a bold step to convert the entire industry to a self reliant model based on the economic principle of supply and demand should be the target with timelines set for achieving. We must not forget that tea was an industry not relying on the state but contributed to the exchequer before the nationalization of the plantation industry.

Hence it will not be a Herculean task to make tea a profitable industry once again to contribute to and not beg for assistance from the state.

Segregation of the industry on the different strengths of plantations for manufacturing and exports for value addition with branding as consumer ready products would truly expose the strengths and weaknesses to strategize productive measures for the entire tea industry.

The liberalisation of the tea export industry has been a moot point for several decades and due to political connotations and objections from groups with vested interest never saw the light of day. The tea HUB or the special economic zone was proposed to carve out a larger portion of the global tea market, through value addition of teas from all origins. Though it was accepted in principle and even approved by lawmakers the implementation never took place. It was even considered by the Ministry of Finance to start the process under a controlled scheme based on the statutes gazetted in 1981.

One other proposal by TEA was for a change in the way tea is procured. An electronic auction system similar to a commodity exchange. This would cut down the procuring time by a big margin and make the process more transparent, efficient and free of malpractices. A once thriving industry which paid all statutory taxes to the government became a debtor to the nation after the estates and agency houses were nationalised in 1975. Subsequent reversal with government control has not paid the desired results and continues as a burden.

The socialist economic policies of successive governments to placate the voters have resulted in uneconomic repercussions and it is not easy to turn around from a state of welfare to that of a hardworking nation without the political will to do so.

1 You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity
2 What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving?
3 The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4 You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it
5 When half the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

The writer is SLT Chairman and a Past President of the National Chamber of Exporters and a Past Chairman the Tea Exporters Association

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Sri Lanka tea economy

* Exports – 300 to 340 million kgs per annum generating 1.6 billion USD or thereabouts.
* Value addition, consumer ready (real term) around 40% of total exports.
* Exports under local brands are not more than 20% of total exports.
* Genuine Ceylon Tea as recognised by the Lion logo certification – not more than 40% of the total annual production or 130 million kgs
* Almost 60% of the annual production is non-competitive at global level due to the high cost of labour and closed door economic policy for tea.
* Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) vastly disregarded making the renowned quality of Ceylon tea questionable.
* BMFannings can be profitably used as a raw material in the extraction of tea properties for several tea based derivatives. Unfortunately due to lack of an appropriate scheme these are reprocessed with banned substances and filtered into the market as black tea which is a serious threat to the good name of Ceylon Tea.
* Brewed tea currently estimated around 60 billion USD is expected to reach 73 billion USD by 2024.
* In the US Ready to Drink teas recorded a market cap of 10.75 billion USD in 2017 and Kombucha (fermented ready to drink tea) a market cap of 576 million USD. Globally these two tea derivatives are making impressive progress in the consumer share of throat with the demand increasing by an impressive 10% year-on-year.
* The global consumer market for tea and tea based products is estimated to be in the region of $ 100 billion within the next five years.